Back In Training: Week Eight & Nine: To the One I Love


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Now that the holiday season has passed it’s time to pick up where I left off. I have three more sessions with my trainer.

Time to introduce that ol’ love of mine running back into the mix.

The last few days on the job I’ve been jump starting all the neurons that were firing on all cylinders prior to the Christmas break. All of us at the office have been winding up slowly.

The new running clinic at The Right Shoe began this evening and it was time to get back to it. I’m feeling so much stronger than I was just three months back. I was feeling a little anxious hoping that the run would ‘feel’ good.

The rain had let up and we had a lovely cool winter evening to greet us as we assembled for our run.

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This is the start of my sixth year with this group. Let me tell you, it felt like coming home tonight. Warm greetings and hugs were exchanged. Jennifer is still running with just six weeks left in her pregnancy.

Angie was in Ontario over the holidays and Siobhan was in Montreal.

Klaus got a cold for Christmas and his wife got the flu. Not the kind of gifts one wants.

Lara, our run leader was just glowing. Always with a welcoming smile she greeted all the newbies and of course us lifers.

I’m starting back at the beginning. I’ll rebuild just as I’ve done with my core strength.

I had a fabulous run! The heaviness I was feeling in my lower abdomen before is gone now. Oh, I’ve a long way to go before I’m back to my previous performance level, but this was a huge improvement from a few months ago.

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I chatted with a few members after our run and then I had to leave. The tears were starting to come. The sweet emotions that were washing over me, the gratitude, the joy, and just how blessed I felt in that moment.

I didn’t want people to think I was upset, as I wasn’t. I love everyone in this group.

When I first started running with them I was huge! And I was still quite introverted and a wee bit shy.

I can tell you that I felt so out of place at first. I can also tell you that my discomfort was of my own making.

Everyone in this group made it a point to encourage me to keep it up. One of the first times we went up to Eric Hamber to train on the track, it took me close to four minutes for just one lap.

Yet every time another member ran past me they offered up words of encouragement and playfully teased that I’d be running circles around them soon.

And as I got in my car tonight it struck me then. This is where the big shift in my life started. The tears fell freely now. Five years ago I joined this group to train for my first Sun Run and crossing that finish line opened a whole new world to me

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I had choices revealed on that day that had always just been wishful thinking and was challenged to make them a reality. And I am.

Peace.

Back in Training: Week Three – Gettin’ Down to Business


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I really kicked it up a notch this week.  The pain is beginning to subside and I no longer feel like I should be in traction after a workout.  Next week I want to incorporate a couple of walk/runs into the mix.

My next session with my trainer I’ll be doing a Level One Fitness Test for my age group.  Our focus this week was taking me through the components of the test then working on core and cardio.  I am quite confident that next week I’ll ace the fitness test.

I have just drawn up a workout schedule for the week ahead and will incorporate all of the fitness test components into the workouts I have at the gym.  This is what it will look like.

Workout Schedule for Week Four

  1. Crunches w/ medicine ball – 40 x 2
  2. Step-ups w/ medicine ball (on aerobic stepper) – 15 on each leg leading = 30 x 2 sets
  3. Up and Over’s touching down (on aerobic stepper) – 20 x 2
  4. Leg lifts – 20 x 2
  5. Seal Jacks – 20 x 2
  6. Mountain Climbers – 30 x 2
  7. Side Steps – 30 seconds w/ squat at end x 2
  8. Triceps Push-ups – 15 x 2
  9. Skipping – 30 seconds x 2
  10. Plank – 45 seconds x 2
  11. Bridge – hold for 1 minute x 2
  12. Overhead Towel squat – 30 x 2
  13. 45 degree Suspension Row – 10 x 2
  14. Push-ups from knees – 10 x 2
  15. Kettle bell swing – 8 lb. 40 x 2
  16. Back extensions – 20 x 2
  • Continue w/ 20 minutes on Bike
  • Continue w/ 15 minutes on Elliptical
  • Three upper body machines (Optional)
  • Three lower body machines. (Optional)

18.  Two walk/runs over my 5 km route (45 min – 50 min)

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Each gym workout will take 1 1/2 hours in length.  I start with 35 minutes of cardio on the stationary bike then jump on the elliptical.

My diet has improved exponentially as well.  I only ate out once and that was a pit stop at Subway on Monday evening as I ran late at the engineer’s office and didn’t get home until 8:30 PM.  I had nothing prepared so I opted to just pick up a sub sandwich.

The last two Saturday evenings I’ve cooked at home.  Again, not something I’m used to doing.

Funny the habits we get into.  Back in 2005 when my daughter was taking her graphic design program I took on a couple of other jobs to help her out.  Also I didn’t want her to have worry about working as it is often stressful enough just trying to get through your studies.

One of the part-time gigs was at a diner in Vancouver.  For close to five years I worked 20 hours a week there.  Friday’s I left my day job at 5:00 PM and started at 6:00 PM  to 10 PM. Every Saturday was from 2 PM to 10 PM and Sundays from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Consequently Saturdays found me coming home and getting cleaned up then heading up Commercial Drive for  a nibble at Wazubees (no longer there), Havana (now very pricey), a little Greek place (no longer there), or a number of other restaurants.  Because I was working so often I neglected meal planning in a big way.

My organizational skills were still somewhat challenged back then.

What I’ve discovered to be key in managing a busy schedule is to actually plan out your week meals and activities.

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When I left the restaurant back in 2010 I purchased my current home.  The last four and half years have been a whirlwind!

Because I was working so much for those five years my social life was pretty much non-existent as well.

Fridays became synonymous for heading down to the Heritage Grill, the Brooklyn, Hops, the Terminal or a host of other places that are within walking distance for a pint and nibble followed by a writing marathon. I would wander home at 1:00 AM once I’d finished whatever it was I was working on.

Saturdays saw me turning into a social butterfly of sorts.

Sundays were for domestic duties of cleaning, laundry and picking up groceries.

Still I wasn’t planning my meals all that well throughout the week.  My daughter was still living with me so we took turns cooking and for a time it worked.

I was committed to good health and had found the love of running once again.  Emotional issues that I’d long neglected came to fore and finally I had the strength to work through them.  And just as I felt that I’d laid that beast to rest then came the challenges of heart disease and cancer.

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A little over a month ago I finally accepted that physically I was right back at square one.  This body had gone through punishing treatment and I tried to convince myself otherwise.  I would head out with my running group on Tuesday evenings and the following couple of days my hips and lower back would be in total agony.

The strong core I had once possessed had effectively been destroyed by treatment.  With this admission a depression had set in….and as I am wont to do when this occurs I cried in many, many beer as I nibbled on pizza.

Yes, I was contributing to my own demise once again!

Oye!

I’m not one to wallow in self-pity, however, and in fact I have little tolerance for myself when I get like this.

And three weeks into training my core strength is returning.  The exercises Tamer has provided are excellent for core as well as whole body.  The workout above has many of the core exercises I’ve been working on .  Yesterday she had me take on the ropes.  These two ropes are about 15 feet in length.  Not to sure of their weight but you hold them in a squat position and can either wobble them back and forth (fabulous for the triceps) or up and down.

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She is pushing me and watching my form.  I am learning so much.  Here I thought myself so knowledgeable about fitness previously and well, in the last three weeks I’ve tackled several exercises that I’ve never done before.

If you are curious about any of the above exercise listed above please let me know.

On Friday evening I decided I really needed to replace the blender that had broken down a couple of months ago.  Heading out I found the Nutri Ninja which is what I wanted at a great price.  Later today I’m going to head out and load up on kale, spinach, and host of other goodies!  The veggie and fruit shakes are back, baby!  Yum!

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Thanks for stopping by.

Peace.

 

Move Like….Gumby?


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The thought occurred as I was escalating up the escalator.

“You gotta move like Gumby, move like Gumby…you gotta moooooove like Gumby!

I have been telling myself this quite a bit lately.  “Just move, girl.  Just get up and move.  Walk, dance, do something!”

When did this become so freakin’ hard?

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I’m having to reschedule when I ‘move’ and I definitely need to do it more often.

The new job has found me with my head in the books pretty much the entire day.  Oh, I take bathroom breaks and run up and down the stairs from time to time and feed myself when hunger occurs.

I’m working in an industrial park with a lot of green space around me, however, with only a half hour allotted for lunch I can’t really get a good walk in.

But perhaps a 15 to 20 minute power walk could work.

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I’ve decided to get up a half hour earlier to do a brief workout in my living room.  It’s a start.  I am running with my group again and it has been brutal.

I’ve finally accepted what my body has been trying to tell me for the last six months.  “Slow down and start over.”

I was talking with Deborah who is one of the run leaders tonight about this.  Both she and her husband Peter have had health issues over the years and it’s tough.  You just want to get over with being ‘sick’ and get back to your life.

My head was convinced that I could just pick up where I left off and I think I really wanted to believe just that.  The last six months as I have tried to just push through the damage caused as a result of treatment I have finally conceded that fact.

Yup, it took a little while to sink in.  I don’t always want to see what is glaringly in front of me.

I really wanted to treat the whole cancer debacle as just a minor inconvenience.  I have accepted that it was little more than that.  I have accepted that physically I’ve taken a bit of a beating.  And I’ve accepted that regaining my health is going to be a little painful for a while.

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So it’s back to the beginning.  I want to move like Gumby.  I want to be all twisty bendy without the feeling like the tin man.

And I shall!

 

Five Hundred…But Who’s Counting?


Hey mista!  Yeah, you.  Hey buddy!  Get over here!  I said, get on over here!  Got somethin’ I gotta tell ya!  Yeah, you!  Don’t make me hurt you!

(Insert sound effects from an old black and white B-movie of the gangster variety where they get into a little of the fisty cuff stuff)

Now that I have your attention I’ve got this to say.

THIS IS MY 500TH POST!

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Not that I’m counting or anything.  But I wonder if WordPress will send me some kind of acknowledgement.  When I first started writing on here they used to send me a little ‘Congratulations!’ icon with every 10 posts I completed.  It has been a long time since they’ve offered up anything.

So let’s do a brief recap.

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First I would like to thank all of you who’ve signed onto my blog and followed me over the last 2 1/2 years during this little journey of mine.

As you all know, I can be a little long-winded at times.  I’ve started projects on here that didn’t seem to get much in the way of response so I tucked the idea away and carried on with it in another manner.

We first met the day after I had a heart procedure done.  A stent was inserted for a blockage I wasn’t aware that I had.  We kind of just happened on it in a backward kind of way.

Things seem to go like that for me at times.

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For the next year I pounded out my first book, a memoir.  I joined a few writing groups and took photography classes.  I finally dealt with some of the most painful and darkest issues that have plagued this life of mine.

I had gotten into running would carry on and commit to it.  During 2012 I was on blood thinners so that the stent could become properly embedded into the walls of my aorta.  I was told to be careful as being on blood thinners would lead to easy bruising.

I don’t think there is a year that I’ve fallen down, tripped, bashed into doors, walls, corners, etc. more often than 2012.  I was, it seemed, something of Georgia peach….a bruised one at that.

As 2012 closed out I said ‘good-bye’ to the blood thinners. In celebration I signed on to do the 2013 BMO 1/2 Marathon.

I decided to write about the experience and the series was called ‘In Training’.  Fifteen weeks were recorded and about half way through my training….I began having health issues.  My energy had begun to do a vanishing act.

The Head

Still, I muscled through.  My fear was that some other heart ailment had come up but the heart was doing fabulously.  The cardiologist couldn’t even stress it out to the max.

More tests.

Four days after I completed the BMO 1/2 Marathon I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer.

And so began a year battle.  I have, as you well know, shared my experiences regarding this on here as well.

I am still kickin’ it.  My hair is growing back…oddly.  I’ve gained 42 lbs. as a result of treatment.  I am easing back into my fitness regime.  Still, its been tough.  The weight is sitting on me in an odd manner.  I don’t know how else to describe it other than when I do run I feel like I have a lifeless belt strapped on.  I have begun to refer quite affectionately to this portion of my anatomy as the Dead Zone.

I am checking out a few varieties of exercise now.  One is Tabata training.  It may be able to kick-start a few things.

It is my understanding that it takes time for all the toxins to be cleared from the body and for me, it has not yet been 6 months.  Am I expecting too much?

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In any case, I’ve found a series of foods that should assist in cleansing the body of the toxins and help to restore the good bacteria that was killed off along with the bad during chemo and radiation.

And between these health issues that I’ve really tried to treat as just a minor inconvenience, I’ve written about any number of topics that have popped into this head of mine.

I finished the memoir which will be released soon.  In the mix I decided to start my own publishing company.  I’ve got six other books of various genres on the go.  I want to make a go of this and write on a full-time basis. I want to publish other writers as well.

If all goes as planned, and I’m sure it will, I will be quite successful.

In the meantime I will carry on posting on this blog of mine.  This began as a writing exercise.  I’ve had my moments where I’ve questioned why I am doing this.  I’ve questioned why I’ve never been featured on anything.  I’ve questioned a lot of things.

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At the end of the day, it comes down to marketing.  Admittedly, when it comes to this blog of mine I am woefully bad at trying to market the thing.  I decided to stay true to the original intent which was to use this forum to write regularly and hopefully improve my skills as a wordsmith.

If I had more time then perhaps I could devote a bit more of this commodity to marketing.

As it is I’m stretching it.  Perhaps that’s why my sleep as of late has been off.

I’ve shared my heart with all of you along with some of my photography which is another love of mine.  I hope you’ve been able to take a little piece here and there and been able to either relate to a situation or given pause and been touched by something I’ve written.

What matters the most and is the highest of compliments, is that you, the reader, can walk away after reading one my posts and feel that the message conveyed is understood, heartfelt and honest in its diction.

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And always I am humbled by those of you who do follow my ramblings.  This isn’t a popularity contest…at least not for this gal.

What this is and always has been is my deep love of the written word and wanting to become better at it with each passing day.

Many blessings to all of you.  Thanks for checking in.

th

 

 

Gassed up & Ready to Go!


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I don’t know why, but I want wail “I coulda been a contender!” And now that I’ve got that out of my system…

After my first week of entering back into the training ring I can say that I’ve learned a few things.

And really, I should know this. I should know better!  I am going to take myself out back and work myself over!

First up.  Don’t drink the evening shake in the morning before going to the gym.  I should stick with having a fruit smoothie or just a piece of fruit.

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Let’s just say the evening shake can cause an effect that is undesirable in a public setting. Typically I don’t bounce around in the evening after I’ve had one.  I found out this morning the repercussions of bouncing around after consuming the shake on the drive in.

It is that delicate condition known as flatulence.

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I would start to kick it up a notch then suddenly feel that ominous gurgle.  Like a deer caught in headlights, I would pause briefly to assess the situation.  Was I safe?  Should I continue?

A moment later I was sprinting to the bathroom.

This occurred a few times much to my chagrin.

Kale is notorious and spinach….(insert sigh)

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Now when I first started running I used to have a salad before hand.  I don’t need to tell you the effect that this had.  When I discussed this with Lara, our run leader, the slow smile as she broke it to me ever so gently that consuming such foods prior to a run isn’t advisable for reasons that I was now aware of.

So why did I think that by blending everything into a liquid would make it okay to consume prior to working out?

I’ve got to tell you though, it is soooooooo good!  But I shall refrain from consuming this at 5:00 AM.

It’s terrible as well when someone you haven’t seen in a while comes over to chat.  One of the women who is a regular came over to say ‘hello’ and talk for a bit.  I put on my best poker face and prayed I wouldn’t laugh.

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I had that visual in my head of laughing uproariously and in that moment when all control over bodily functions was lost, after the cloud of gas had cleared, everyone was passed out on the floor!

Let’s talk about something really dismal so that you’ll think that’s why I am wearing this pained expression.

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Still, despite the sprinting intervals, I had a decent workout.

I’m getting a lot of comments on my hair now. How fast it’s grown!  How great the colour is!

(Of course, I quite smugly add ‘No grey, man!’)

I had best stop this behaviour. Not good karma to gloat or boast or whatever it is I am doing.

I will get my second run in tomorrow morning.  Then I’m thinking of doing a fitness class on Sunday morning.  I haven’t gone to these classes for a while and I did enjoy them.

Next week I will start the two-week Liver Reset program.  This week has been preparatory for this.  I’ve been chowing down on a salads, baby!

I will be experimenting with a carrot soup recipe this weekend.  Yum!

Of course, I am having the early morning battles with my bed.  I went out and purchased a new down filled comforter with microfiber sheets and a couple of down filled pillows.

I must have a masochistic streak in me.  It is now painful to get out of my bed as I am so ridiculously comfortable!

In any case, I shall share my pleasures with you just as I share my pain.  This was the pleasure that caused the pain this morning.

The recipe for my night-time shake as follows.

2  stalks of Kale

1 big handful of Spinach

6-8 Strawberries (frozen or fresh)

1 Peach (frozen or fresh)

1 Banana (peeled)

Chia Seeds

2 cups of Coconut Milk

Blend until you have a thick and smooth consistency throughout.

Now you’ll have this glorious green shake!  It is delicious!  Enjoy!

Peace.

 

 

 

The Training Game


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Summer is fast approaching and I have much to do.

I haven’t been posting to often these days.

Yes, I was away and I’ve told you all about my little adventures.

Now I’m back making some big committments to myself.

Time to get the book launched.  I am starting my own publishing company and have it registered.  I had to purchase another computer as the one I have at home is in its twilight. Once I get that in I can set up all the software and format the book.

By then I will have purchased my ISBN numbers and obtained my EIN number.

Then it is just a question of setting up a business account along with a few other accounts.

Also I have decided to run the Coho this year which is a 14 KM race in September.

So I am officially back in training.

This time out will be very different.  I am far more focused on my foods.  First up I am doing a Liver Reset program.  This will begin next week and run for 14 days.  It is designed to flush out toxins and restore the good bacteria.  It is done with food groupings.  From this I hope to learn alot about pairing my foods and the logistics behind it.

For example, did you know that you should never drink while eating?  In fact, you should not eat for an hour prior and an hour after.

Sounds crazy but as I researched it I began to understand the why.  If you drink any liquid just before and during your meal, water included, your digestive juices are diluted.  It will then take longer to digest your food.

From what I understand the longer it takes to digest, the fewer nutrients you get and your body will absorb a bunch of the bad stuff too.

Sandra explained that if I start just not drinking while I eat and then adding to the time on either end.  Five minutes, ten, fifteen, twenty. You get the idea.

I have every intention of enjoying the food as well.  I`ve been looking over the recipes and they sound delicious.  You can also substitute veggies and fruits as well, as long as they are in the same category (i.e. lettuce, spinach, kale)

I need to rebuild my fitness regime and make it progressivley more challenging as well.  I can tell you that currently it is tough to run with the added weight.  I should know in about one month what my progress is.  I am going to keep a food diary as well.  This I find useful in that you can look back at the various combinations that worked really well together.

Also, making the effort to keep a record will hold me to account.  I make it a point to write down everything.  Even the little bowl of potatoe chips I have at the office on Friday afternoons.

If I were to go and have a couple of beer, I would need to record this as well.  And beer, while I love it, I will have to abstain for a while.  I will allow the odd glass of wine but that`ll be it.

The timing is fabulous too.  I want to launch the company and I need to be focused.  The two should compliment each other exceptionally well.

When I signed up for the 1/2 Marathon last year, I spoke often of acheiving optimum health.  I have a better vision now of what that looks like for me personally.

Time to make it happen.

 

 

Anatomy of a Race


The awardI had just awarded his medal to him and offered congratulations and he gave me a hug.

I’ve seen running in a whole new light.

I had volunteered to assist in awarding the medals to the incoming runners this year. There were two shifts.  I was on the second shift and had all the marathoners that came through.

I was delighted that I was able to place Lara’s medal on her person.  She is our run leader at The Right Shoe, where I train and a huge inspiration for me personally.  Her time was 3:16:11.

Fabulous!

What surprised me was how emotional the day was.  Perhaps because I ran the BMO Vancouver 1/2 Marathon last year at this time.  Perhaps it’s because I am a runner that I connected so deeply with so many of the runners.

I had a woman approach me crying.  I put the medal over her head and congratulated her.  “Could I get a hug?” she sobbed.

I folded her in my arms and just held her while she sobbed for a good minute.  I had tears in my eyes when I released her.  She smiled and said ‘Thank you.’

And I get it.

I understand intimately the emotional connection to running.  I totally get the emotions that run through you upon completion.

This was her moment and I was fortunate enough to share in it, however briefly.

I slipped the medal over this tall fella.  He just swept me up and gave me a giant bear hug.  I laughed, congratulating him then said “Go on and take care of those muscles.  Have a nice long soak.”

“Can I take you home with me?” he grinned back.

“You really are delirious, aren’t you?” I chuckled.

“Hell yeah!” Then he slipped away.

I saw people staggering over the finish line.  Saw the pain on the runners’ faces as their muscles began to seize up.  Saw the joy and the elation.  Saw some of them collapse. Medics moved swiftly to get them into a wheelchair and care for them.  I saw people swagger on rubber legs with spent expressions on their faces.

And this triggered so many emotions in me.

A year ago I was crossing the finish line oblivious to almost everything around me.  That moment of completion and the absolute joy that ran through me as I moved along on legs that were reminiscent of Gumby.

And how many did I see today that were reduced to tears?  It was a humbling and profound to be at this end of the spectrum.

I left my wig in the car.  It was raining, a drizzly kind of day.  I got good and wet but just fed off the energy.  My face was exhausted from smiling so much.

And each time someone fell into my arms or swooped me up, I was overcome with emotion.

I know the psychological battle that ensues during the course of a long run.  Your legs will feel as if cement blocks are forming on the feet.  Every muscle will begin to scream at you in serious protest.

But the mind will insist that you carry on.  You’ll dig down deeper and deeper.  You’ll become transcendent to some degree as the world around you fades at times.  Everything hurts but you’ll maintain your posture having had this drilled into you.  In fact you may very well give the appearance that what you are doing is effortless.

It is one of the most challenging thing you’ll ever do.

And you will learn more about yourself in these moments than in any other circumstance in your life.

I truly believe this.

For three and a half hours I offered up the medals and plastic sheets for the runners to wrap themselves in.  The rain could easily rob an exhausted runner and cause even more pain for a too rapid cool down.

My admiration and respect for the runners increased as the day progressed.  For everyone who ran this day, there was a story behind it.  There was a motive, passion, a need and desire to do this thing.

And when the finish line is breached, most surrendered to the euphoria and ache that greeted them.

Some gazed at pace watches wanting to have bested a previous run.  Some uttered expletives as disappointment was etched on their face realizing they had not succeeded.

Ah yes!  The forbidding clock!

For the time we subject our bodies to the agony and ecstasy of the race the clock pushes us forward.

I needed to take a break and headed into the hotel.  More than five hours had now passed since the start of the race.  We had been incredibly busy awarding the medals but now the stream of runners had thinned out.

I only had 20 minutes left on my shift but called it a day.  I had begun my shift an hour early.

All the volunteers were getting so caught up in the moment and this just made me smile.

I was tired, cold and quite hungry.

My daughter was heading over to meet me for lunch then we were going to head back and checkout her new place.

I had a great time yesterday.

Again I have been blessed as I experienced the fragility and strength of being human and the drive to succeed.

Why do we do this?

Our reasons abound as well.

To all the runners out there, congratulations!